The Mary Kay Way To World Domination

For those who think of Mary Kay cosmetics as nothing more than a pink Cadillac full of mauve lipsticks, think again: when the company's handbook, The Mary Kay Way, came out 20 years ago, Mary Kay Ash's culty brand of get-rich-kinda-quick consumer marketing made it a bestseller. Or, as the blurb would have it, "it was Mary Kay's goal in 1963 to build an organization that was guided by the Golden Rule and dedicated to giving women unlimited opportunities for success. She considered caring and kindness to be the building blocks of a highly motivated workforce-and the forty-five year success story that is Mary Kay Inc. has proven her right."

The book, which will hit shelves again this summer as a special anniversary edition, is full of 'success principle' chestnuts for the entrepreneur like, "Make people feel important. They are." and "Sandwich every bit of criticism between two heavy layers of praise." Like any kind of self-help, most of it's pretty common-sensical, and yet suddenly looks creepy and calculating when framed as didactic, capitalistic axioms. That said, Mary Kay herself is obviously completely badass - and clearly has confidence in her own products - an amazing success story at a time when that wasn't easy for a woman. Even if, yes, she did it with makeup, pink cars and "The Golden Rule." But hell, there must have been some serious steel there: if niceness bought Caddys, we wouldn't be riding a bike.

Life Lessons From Mary Kay [US News And World Report]